The AAU Junior Olympics track and field meet was a little intimidating at first for Houma native Emery Prentice.
Prentice, a 12-year-old pole vaulter, was one of hundreds of athletes from across the country competing at the national meet taking place this week in Humble, Texas.
Once she overcame initial jitters, Prentice vaulted herself into AAU Junior Olympic glory.
Prentice, a member of the local based High Vaultage pole vaulting club, cleared 9 feet, 4 ¼ inches to win the girls’ pole vault competition in the 13-year-old category at the Junior Olympics on Aug. 2. It was her first time competing in a pole vault competition on a national stage.
“It feels awesome. I was very excited about it,” Prentice said. “The competition was hard. I’m glad my hard work paid off.”
Prentice, who will turn 13 in November, was the youngest pole vaulter competing in her age group at the meet, but she still managed to lead the competition in impressive fashion. She was the only pole vaulter to clear over 9-feet, and she earned AAU All-American track and field honors.
Prentice’s mark beat out second-place finisher Kolby Weiss of Clinton, Ill., who cleared 8-10 ¼.
Prentice said she was confident in her chances of winning a national title after setting a personal best mark of 10-feet at a warmup practice session prior to the meet. She also jumped a 9-6 mark at the AAU Governors Games in Covington earlier this summer, which gave her the top-seed in her age group at the Junior Olympics.
“I was confident that I would get a high jump,” Prentice said. “I knew if I had a great day, I would have a shot to win the meet.”